When ministry dreams are bigger than your mission funds, it’s challenging to focus on serving people. Especially when you are responsible for fundraising your salary and funding basic needs for your ministry, the pressure to continue to find new fundraising avenues and raise awareness about your ministry efforts can weigh on you.
When money is involved, it isn’t easy to remain calm. I’ve watched some people and even some ministries implode due to using attention-grabbing techniques to shortcut their marketing efforts. Sadly, impulsiveness is rarely successful and can be difficult to recover from if the wrong people are offended. While corporations may have reserve funds to ride out disgruntled customers, if you’re already struggling to pay your bills, the last thing you need is a marketing crisis on your hands.
Here’s the reality donors distribute funds to churches, parachurch ministries, and nonprofit organizations much like they evaluate purchases. They approach each potential gift with a consumer mindset. Because of this, a strategy for ministry marketing that mirrors a marketing plan for a business in the secular arena will connect with your ideal giver.
What is an Ideal Giver?
Every marketing strategy must focus on a target audience. For secular industries, the term for your target audience is a buyer persona. When focusing your products and services on publishing a book, the term for your audience is an ideal reader. Because your goal is to fund a ministry, the persona we focus on shaping a message for throughout this conversation is your ideal giver.
Market Your Ministry By Working Smarter, Not Harder
The great thing about consumers across all industries is that they may have varied preferences, but the “why” behind their buying decisions is consistent. Even better, when it comes to nonprofits and ministries, the things people prioritize should happen naturally. By working smarter rather than harder, you can retain your donor base and enlist them to help elevate your message to the right audience. This will free your calendar up to focus on the most important aspects of your work…the people you’re called to serve.
According to the 2019 LinkedIn State of the Sales Report, trust is the most important factor between a seller and a decision maker. This means that as the head of a ministry or a fundraiser for a church, you must earn the trust of the decision maker before they invest in you.
How to Earn the Trust of a Decision Maker
- Communicate factually
- Communicate transparently
- Invite them to see the impact of your ministry in person
- Be the same person in your ministry life that you are in your personal life – in other words, act ethically.
It can be tempting to tell potential donors that your ministry has a significant impact on your community when the reality is you’ve had a difficult time making inroads in the areas you want to connect. However, honesty is always the best policy. In fact, you may discover that an honest confession that you need help opens the doors you’ve been unable to walk through on your own.
It’s important to provide giving reports to your donors with as many details as possible. You may choose to do this in the form of a newsletter, a video, and transcript, or an in-person meeting. Regardless of your method, it’s vital that donors know the health of your fundraising budget. Most importantly, your ideal donors will want to know that if they gave money toward a specific project, it was used as they expected.
Be Your Ideal Givers Are Already Hanging Out
Trust is built over time. In today’s digital world, consumers are used to gathering at least part of their information digitally. In fact, HubSpot says that 67% of the buyer journey is digital. For nonprofits and ministries, this provides an opportunity to connect with ideal givers across the globe using the same techniques businesses use. Social media allow companies to build their brands by elevating and reinforcing name or brand recognition without dedicating marketing funds toward the endeavor. An ethical approach to social media will allow you to create and nurture relationships with your donors and potential donors, which builds trust.
How do you start using social media for ministry communication? Hang out where your ideal givers spend time. This isn’t difficult. There are 4.2 billion active social media users worldwide in 2022, and 74% are based in the United States.
Because seventy-four percent of Americans are active social media users, and while you may believe that social media is reserved for connecting with friends and family or arguing about politics, the reality is that many businesses, including 90% of fortune 500 companies have an active and intentional presence on social media.
Businesses Use Social Media, So Should Ministries:
- Companies with consistent social selling processes are 40% more likely to hit revenue goals than non-social sellers.
- 39% of B2B professionals said social selling reduced the amount of time they had to spend researching potential leads.
- 84% of C-Level executives use social media to make purchasing choices.
- Social sales generate more than 50% of revenue across 14 major industries.
Regarding social media, you want to use the platforms to communicate your message, engage with donors, answer questions, and stay updated with a broad stroke on how donors are doing. Remember, your donors are human beings, and there may come a point where your ministry serves them!
In other words, you need a simple, ethical digital strategy that allows you to focus on in-person ministry. Whether you’re serving in a traditional ministry setting, such as a church or parachurch 501c3 organization, or your goal is to serve your audience as an ambassador of Christ in a secular business arena, you will eventually face the same marketing challenges.
Social Media Tips for Marketing Your Ministry
- Choose the platforms where your audience hangs out.
- Schedule content using a platform like the Facebook Business Scheduler. This allows you to automate content for weeks rather than accessing social media multiple times a day.
- Balance the information you share about your ministry with curated content about the people you serve.
- Don’t be afraid to repeat messages. Algorithms are tricky.
- Think outside the box. Use video, gifs, images, and quotes to catch the eye of your ideal giver.
- Be yourself.
It’s Easy to Blame Cancel Culture Rather Than Look Inward
Before moving on to the action steps of how to market your ministry ethically, it’s important to address the buzzword “cancel culture.” As your stress increases, so will your stage of burnout. It may become more difficult to discern the truth from your personal perspective. You must remember that in 2022 a Barna Research report showed that 77% of practicing Christians tie their giving based to their identity.
If you choose to ostracize or harm people with your words or actions, then your donors have the right to say they do not want their identity associated with your positions. Because you chose to speak out harmfully first, you have to accept there are consequences for your choices.
If you believe you are correct in your position and you still find yourself losing donors, I suggest you review your ideal giver profile. Perhaps you’ve been targeting the wrong audience with your message.